Diagnostically assessing Western Australian year 11 students’ engagement with theory in visual arts

Year: 2014

Author: Julia, Morris, Geoffrey, Lummis, Graeme, Lock

Type of paper: Refereed paper

Theory linked to visual arts’ responding outcomes, is fundamental to the visual arts curriculum in facilitating visual literacy, or students’ ability to assemble meaning from, and construct new imagery. Without visual literacy, year 11 students are limited in understanding and fully participating in our technological, image-based society. Subsequently, a mixed methods doctoral study was undertaken to investigate students’ engagement in visual arts theory tasks, as increased engagement in theory was anticipated to improve students’ visual literacy outcomes. A diagnostic instrument was created to measure year 11 students’ prior learning in visual arts theory, as well as their cognitive and psychological engagement. Interviews with year 11 students, visual arts teachers, and some principals or representatives, supported the development of the instrument and contextualised the findings. Whilst the research is ongoing, findings suggest measuring students’ engagement facilitates the diagnosis of key issues and knowledge gaps affecting students’ learning. Initial findings also confirm limited psychological engagement acts as a barrier to learning in visual arts’ theory.